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On Migrant Families

"Weakened and at Times Disfigured by Life's Trials"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 16, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Wednesday before praying the midday Angelus with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

This Sunday we observe the annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Therefore, I address to all men of good will and, in particular, to Christian communities, a special message dedicated to migrant families.

We can contemplate the Holy Family of Nazareth, image of all families, as it reflects the image of God, guarded in the heart of every human family, even when it is weakened and at times disfigured by life's trials.

The Evangelist Mark recounts that, shortly after Jesus' birth, St. Joseph was obliged to travel to Egypt, taking with him the child and its Mother, to flee from King Herod's persecution (cf. Matthew 2:13-15).

In the drama of the family of Nazareth we can perceive the painful condition of so many migrants, especially refugees, the exiled, the displaced and the persecuted. We recognize, in particular, the difficulties of the migrant family as such: the difficult conditions of life, the humiliations, inconveniences and fragility.

In fact, the phenomenon of human mobility is very widespread and diversified. According to recent United Nations estimates, migrants impelled by financial reasons number almost 200 million; refugees number 9 million and international students some 2 million.

To this great number of brothers and sisters must be added the internally displaced and irregular migrants, keeping in mind that each one of them has, in one way or another, a family. Therefore, it is important to care for migrants and their families through the help of specific legislative, juridical and administrative protections, as well as through a network of services, listening centers and structures of social and pastoral assistance.

I hope that soon a balanced management will be established of the migratory flows and of human mobility in general, so that it will bring benefits to the whole human family, beginning with concrete measures that favor regular migration and family regrouping, paying special attention to women and minors.

Also in the huge field of international migrations, the human person must always be placed at the center. The just integration of families in social, economic and political systems is only achieved on one hand, by respecting the dignity of all immigrants and, on the other hand, by immigrants recognizing the values of the host society.

Dear friends, the reality of migrations must never be seen just as a problem, but also and above all as a great resource for humanity's progress. And the migrant family is especially a resource, if it is respected as such, and does not suffer irreparable lacerations, but is able to remain united or to regroup, and to fulfill its mission as the cradle of life and first sphere of a person's education.

Together we ask this of the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, and of St. Francesca Xavier Cabrini, patroness of migrants.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in six languages. In English, he said:]

To all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors I offer a warm welcome. In today's Gospel, Mary says to the servants at the wedding feast in Cana: "Do whatever he tells you." May you respond generously to her exhortation, so that your hearts may be filled with the peace and joy of Christ her Son. Upon all of you, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Families, Migrant, Angelus, Pope, Immigration, Solidarity

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